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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Las Vegas killer Paddock set up cameras in hotel

More details emerge about the shooter and the moments he opened fire on the crowd along with stories of bravery

Authorities said Stephen Craig Paddock broke windows on the casino and began firing with a cache of weapons, killing dozens and injuring hundreds at the festival. John Locher/AP Photo
Authorities said Stephen Craig Paddock broke windows on the casino and began firing with a cache of weapons, killing dozens and injuring hundreds at the festival. John Locher/AP Photo

The man who committed the deadliest shooting in US history planned his killings meticulously, police said on Tuesday afternoon.

At least 59 were killed and 527 injured when Stephen Paddock, 64, opened fire on a Las Vegas music festival on Sunday night from his hotel room.

Paddock set up cameras outside his hotel room so he could see anyone approaching the suite where he fired down on festival-goers.

"The fact that he had the type of weaponry and the amount of weaponry in that [hotel] room — it was pre-planned extensively," police spokesman Sheriff Joe Lombardo said at a news conference. "I'm pretty sure he evaluated everything that he did in his actions."

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Paddock's family revealed earlier on Tuesday that he was a multi-millionaire gambler with no strong politics or religion.

The shooter had booked a room in his girlfriend’s name on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, less than 400 metres away from the Route 91 country music festival.

During the day, as revellers flocked to the weekend-long event a few metres off the Las Vegas Strip, Paddock had lugged 10 suitcases up to his room, filled with deadly weapons and ammunition.

Around 10pm on Sunday night he smashed two of the room’s windows and began firing on the 22,000 festival-goers in a nine second burst, followed by two more bursts of gunfire.

On stage, country singer Jake Owen said it was like “shooting fish in a barrel from where he was".

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At 10.08pm Las Vegas police got their first call about the shooting. Already dozens lay dead on the ground, while others fled screaming amid the blood and pandemonium, witnesses said.

Security at the hotel were alerted when smoke from Paddock’s guns set off the fire alarm in his room, and tried to enter but were shot by the killer.

At 11.20pm a Swat team broke down the door and stormed the room. Paddock shot himself before they could catch him.

Laid around him officers found 23 guns, including fully-automatic rifles capable of firing up to 800 bullets a minute.

Some were mounted on tripods with holographic sights, and others had “muzzle flash suppressors” to hide where the shooting was coming from.

One of the weapons was a Colt AR-15, used by movie theatre killer James Holmes and San Bernardino shooter Omar Mateen.

Another Swat team stormed Paddock’s two houses in Mesquite and Reno, Nevada.

In his US$400,000 home in a retirement community in Mesquite, officers found 19 more guns, thousand of rounds of ammunition and Tannerite, an explosive used for target practice.

Officers in Las Vegas also recovered ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser which can be used for making explosives, from the shooter’s car.

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Investigators are now trying to piece together a picture of the man and his reasons for mass murder, while his family say they are left dumbfounded.

"We are in complete shock, bewilderment and horror. We have absolutely no idea how in the world Steve did this. Absolutely no concept," a family member told the Chicago Tribune.

According to Paddock’s brother, Eric, he was a multi-millionaire professional poker player.

“He was a wealthy guy, playing video poker, who went cruising all the time and lived in a hotel room,” he said.

Paddock once texted his brother “a picture that he won $40,000 on a slot machine”, and was known to play $100 hands of poker.

Paddock's Multiple Currency Transaction Reports showed he spent more than $30,000 per day in Vegas in the days before the shooting, according to a source with access to the transaction reports.

Paddock had no criminal record, according to Nevada police in Las Vegas and Mesquite.

Eric said his brother had no Army training, and had not expressed a particular interest in guns.

“He had a couple of guns but they were all handguns, legal ... he might have had one long gun, but he had them in a safe,” he said.

“The fact that he had those kind of weapons is just — where the hell did he get automatic weapons?”

Eric said his brother had no strong political or religious affiliations.

Though some neighbours said he could be unfriendly, others said Paddock “kept to himself”.

He lived with long-term girlfriend Marilou Danley in Mesquite, frequently spending days at a time on gambling trips in Vegas.

Paddock was a licensed pilot who owned two planes. He also had a hunting and fishing license from Alaska, and was a golf and tennis player.

His father however, was rather less ordinary. Benjamin Hoskins Paddock was convicted in 1961 of a string of bank robberies, and was “diagnosed as psychopathic” with possible “suicidal tendencies”.

Seven years into his 20-year sentence at La Tuna federal prison in Texas, Benjamin escaped, placing him on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

Benjamin went on the run for eight years, working as a used car dealer and bingo parlour operator.

He was found a year after he was taken off the Most Wanted list, outside Oregon Bingo hall.

Paddock’s brother said their mother kept Benjamin’s criminal past a secret from them, instead telling her three sons that he was dead.

Despite his father’s crime spree, Paddock does not fit the bill of a typical mass shooter, according to Clint Van Zandt, a former FBI hostage negotiator.

Mr Van Zandt said Paddock was significantly older than the typical shooter and did not appear to be suffering from mental illness.

“My challenge is, I don't see any of the classic indicators so far that would suggest, ‘OK, he's on the road either to suicide or homicide or both’,” Mr Van Zandt told CNBC.

As dozens of names of Paddock’s victims emerged, families have begun to tell the stories of brave individuals who tried to save their loved ones.

Todd Wienke took four bullets to the back, arm and left side but carried on giving first aid to victims in the shooting last night.

His daughter Amanda, 21, recounted how the 48-year-old prison officer acted as a human shield for his wife and then helped save others while under fire.

"He jumped on top of my stepmom and was shot in the back and in the side," said Amanda. "After the second round finished he decided to get up and start running. He was then shot in the arm and in his left side. He said it looked like a war zone.

She said the California City father of two "immediately started triage on a few girls who had been hit. He also tried grabbing people's hands to pull them to the gate.

"He was taken the the hospital in an ambulance. There were two other people in the ambulance, both had gun shot wounds to the head," she said.

"He is currently stable but will need to have surgery to continue the process of removing the bullets and scrap metal.”

Amanda said her step-mother Oshia Collins-Waters, a clinical medical assistant at Tehachapi Valley Healthcare District, had a "busted knee and a black eye from being trampled” but was otherwise unscathed.

“He was starting to tear up over the phone," said Amanda. "But he cracked a joke about having a new story to tell at parties. I think humor is his way to get through this emotional time.”

Los Angeles Fire Captain Mark McCurdy carried his sister-in-law Jessi Presten to safety after she was shot at the festival, and then ran back to save others.

Another off-duty firefighter, Kurt Fowler from Arizona, was shot in the leg while protecting his wife from gunfire, his colleague said.

Mr Fowler pulled his wife to the ground and lay on top of her to shield her, Erickson and Desert Hills fire captain and union president Steve Bunn told CBS 5.

“Kurt is a very devoted family man. Good father, good husband,” said Bunn.

“Everything he does is oriented around his wife and kids. Good firefighter. He's well-liked here. He's one of our brothers, and we're doing the best we can to support him and his family.'”

Mr Fowler had surgery on a likely shattered tibia and fibula according to friends, who have raised $10,815 for his medical bills on website GoFundMe.